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LLCN Brief

10 EpisodesProduced by Kent ISDWebsite

Literacy leaders and coaches know that routinely developing knowledge and skills models for students that learning is important. Join hosts Mark Raffler (Literacy Consultant) and Sarah Shoemaker (Early Literacy Coach) for five exclusive interviews each school year with local and national literacy ex… read more


Making Formative Assessment Happen in the Classroom - a conversation with Margaret Heritage

In this episode, we (Mark Raffler and Sarah Shoemaker) connect with researcher, author, former UCLA Principal and Assistant Director, and independent educational consultant, Margaret Heritage.   Her work has long centered around formative assessment and ambitious teaching and spans multiple continents.

Here is a quick brief of our conversation:

*Sarah starts the dialogue with Ms. Heritage by prompting.  “Talk to us about formative assessment and ambitious teaching.  What are the need-to know pieces that all educators and students should have understanding of?” Margaret defines ambitious teaching as student-centered-thinking when developing concepts, practices, and language where learning is social and the effort is collective learning through multiple modes.  Students are encouraged to share their provisional thinking and engage in rich disciplinary discourse.  Ambitious teaching and formative assessment are reciprocal ideas.

*Mark adds to the dialogue:  “We are often get asked about the frequency of assessment.  How often should formative assessment occur and what should it look like?”  Ms. Heritage delineates that formative assessment is on-going assessment during the process of learning to determine where students are as the lesson unfolds.  “It’s the DNA of teaching and learning.”  She goes on to detail the differences in types of assessments and give examples of formative assessments in the classroom.

*Margaret talks about formative assessment at the lesson level and assists us in identifying the goal or target we want students to accomplish.  She clarifies how we close the gap - and what the gap really is - in student knowledge.  Clear learning goals and performance indicators are essential to any teaching and assessment.  These are the drivers of the feedback loop.  Ms. Heritage emphasizes the critical nature of  understanding what meeting the learning criteria really means.  She reiterates a statement we have long valued at Kent ISD - “Go slow to go fast.”  

*Then, we talk a bit about how to provide feedback to students.  Mark asks:  “How do we provide feedback to our students most effectively to help them make sense and identify next steps in their learning?”  Margaret dives into feedback related to thinking and focusing around having students do the work.  Students need to do the “heavy lifting” with sufficient support in order to accomplish the learning.  Giving feedback is a very sophisticated skill when done well.  It helps students develop a repertoire of learning strategies.

*Margaret Heritage summarizes our conversation by noting some key resources related to learning further about formative assessment and reinforcing the important role of the formative assessment  in the classroom.

We wrap up this episode by asking listeners to share your thoughts on podcast topics - your voice matters!  Please visit to tell us what you want to future podcasts to focus on in relation to literacy.

All resources in this LLCN Brief (and future podcasts) can be found at:  Subscribe to the Literacy Leadership and Coaches Network podcasts here: or your favorite podcast platform

Please note the audio used as an introduction and in transitions in this podcast is under the Creative Common License and attribution is given as follows:
Medicine by WinnieTheMoog

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